Kicks Condor

Reply: Finding Blogs in the Future

Don Park

I feel that discovery layer is missing or lacking. blogrolls didn’t scale. ring blogs just sucked. SEO is just survival-of-the-fittest money pit.

Discovery layer is critical. Without it, even recent push to reshape blogs into shops is meaningless. even small towns have a Main Street for discovery.

Blogrolls worked more like book recommendations. Hard to maintain too. Worked well with new technology. With other and over multiple topics, not so well. We need a more self-organizing and ad-hoc, emergent if you will.

It’s constant work—finding each other through the noise.

Hi, folks - just jumping in because this is my wheel house a bit. I have been having an extended discussion with Brad Enslen (so, on our blogs: ramblinggit.com and kickscondor.com) about discovery. We talk a lot about how this is more of a human problem than a technology problem - and that technology has played a negative role in this, perhaps.

(My part in this is: I have been spending time every day for the past six months searching for blogs - to see what the Web looks like outside of social networks. So I have a good perspective on where one can search nowadays - you can’t just type ‘blogs’ into Google. And I’m starting to get a good feel for where I would want to go to find blogs.)

blogrolls didn’t scale. ring blogs just sucked. SEO is just survival-of-the-fittest money pit.

Yes, so - for sure. (See Brad’s comment on Google here.)

In addition, self-promotion has become a dirtier word these days - you can’t just post your blog to Reddit and Instagram - it’s seen as being overly assertive. So there is almost nowhere for blogs to go.

The thing is: no, blogrolls didn’t scale - but I think they are pretty essential. We’ve traded a human-curated list of links for a ‘friends’ list that is really just a number on an individual’s feed. And the best blogrolls had nice descriptions of who was who (see: Chris Aldrich’s following page as a good example) which is a generous way of turning your readers on to other good work.

I guess I just think of it practically: how would we treat our friends and the other ‘writers’/‘artists’ we admire - by making them a number in our list? Or by spelling it out: “Annie writes about her processes as a sci-fi writer and how to improve online relationships. Basically - it’s uplifting to read her.”

Blog clusters are emergent. Fake or not, blogs with posts on similar topics will be mapped to same cluster which can be seen as a place in which a blog belongs to. Once we have that, a blog reader should be able to ‘pop out’ of that blog and see some visual representation of that cluster with neighboring blogs, not unlike a shopper leaving a store will see a street lined with other shops. That’s how discovery is done IRL and I envision that may be possible online.

Sweet - feels practical. One question I have here is: ok, so blogs have also become more topic-based. The most common blogs are recipe blogs, movie blogs, etc. But a great ‘lost’ element of blogs was just the original web journal or meta blog, where a person is just writing about whatever - I think of stuff like the old J-Walk blog or Bifurcated Rivets. Even Boing Boing used to be more this way. (So like an online ‘zine’.)

I think the orderliness of the Internet and the systems for discovery - these blogs were not found through Google, but only because there was more of an ethic of linking to each other among early blogs. A lot of discovery was just being done by bloggers back then - people simply passed links around.

Again, ‘likes’ have drained linking of a lot of its bite. We don’t write so much about why we like something - we like it and move on. And it’s so easy to ‘like’, it is done so vigorously that even we can’t keep up with our own likes - whereas we used to be limited by how much energy we would spend dressing up our links.

I’m with Don on this – whatever is going to have a chance to work has to be emergent, meaning it can’t require any investment on the part of writers.

I think ‘emergent’ can require work - in fact, it might demand work. Yes, too much work will dissuade anyone. But if it’s too easy, then it’s virtually worthless. I think the value of human curation is in its additional care.

An algorithm cannot simulate the care. Chris’ blogroll linked above is done with care - a human can plainly see that another human has taken the time to write about others. And the more time he spends designing it and improving it, the more it shows that care. People can visit my blog and see that it is built with care. (To me ‘care’ can be represented by thoughtful writing and splendid artistry or shaping of the information.)

Ok - sorry to go on so long, I hope you see this as my effort to generously engage in your discussion.

The effort Brad and I are now engaged in is an effort to bring back the link directory and to attempt to innovate it based on what we’ve learned. (Link directories have already evolved several times into: blogrolls, wikis, link blogs, even the App Store’s new ‘magazine’ approach, etc.) The idea is to jump right into discovery and link up with anyone else who wants to get in on it. Thus, my reply today!

Good to meet you all - take care.

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